Will there be an infrastructure bill? An update
Monday, January 8, 2018
There’s been a couple of changes since the holiday break and since the original article we posted on Dec. 11, 2017 titled, "Is the Infrastructure bill ever going to happen?"
The Administration to release a 70-page plan for infrastructure.
The Administration announced last month that it would release principles on an infrastructure package in January, and now we are hearing details that it will be a 70 page document – giving much more details than the five page outlook published in the budget.
Previews of the document say it will have four pots of money:
- For states and local governments that bring their own funding for a higher match (and/or private funding)
- A rural grant program
- Existing grant and loan programs, such as the freight program and TIFIA loan program.
- “Transformative” programs or projects of national and regional significance.
The big question continues to be how to fund such a program. The administration is proposing that cuts in existing domestic programs could be moved to infrastructure.
Representative Bill Shuster, the Chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) announces he’ll retire in 2018.
Chairman Shuster announced he will resign at the end of this year, stating he will spend his last year in Congress focusing on passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
This announcement led to speculation that Shuster may also work to find an answer to the Highway Trust Fund shortfall in the process. This would be a herculean feat and secure his congressional legacy. He is respected on both sides and most of the major bills the T&I committee have worked on have been with bipartisan support.
Representative Shuster will have held the Chairman position for six years, and will be term limited at the end of 2018.. During that time he passed several major infrastructure bills, including the FAST Act for surface transportation, as well as reauthorizations of water resources and a rail bill.
Shuster and the Trump Infrastructure plan
Shuster has been a long time supporter of President Trump and has generally been supportive of the push for more infrastructure funding. However, he has also expressed concerns that the administration’s push to push states to pay a higher percentage of infrastructure costs is a step towards devolving the federal transportation system to states.
Representative Shuster and President Trump met in December to discuss plans for infrastructure, and while we don’t know what happened in that meeting we do know Shuster came back to Washington ready to spend his final year in Congress dedicated to making something happen.